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The positively, absolutely last bloody theory about the Somerton Man.

Gerry Feltus is famous for saying Adelaide was full of spies in the late forties and there is no doubt he was right given the number of high-tech German engineers, draftsmen, scientists, designers and weapon propulsion experts in town after the British seconded them from the abandoned weapons complexes in Germany after WW2 – as did the Americans and Russians take their share in an exercise that immediately pitted all of them against each other in a race to develop better weapons than each other. So it is not surprising that none of these former allies were talking to each other about their separate developments in 1947/48. Not Australia and Britain though, we were partners under the Union Jack and the English had MI 5’s Roger Hollis and Hemblys-Scales pop over in 1948 to advise the Chifley government that its existing national security apparatus might be better served if they were no longer so dependant on seconded police officers* to do the initial heavy-lifting. Coppers are clumsy they said. Lacking in finesse. Leave their bloody boot marks everywhere.

Records held in a once-secure environment which are now available show that over 120 of these highly-trained individuals were domiciled in Australia in 47/48 on the proviso that their political affiliations and former employment remained secret and their security in Australia subject to Federal disposition, particularly as some if not all of them were in the country using false, government supplied identities. Look as hard as you like in Trove for any mention or hint of this project or the men involved because – apart from the many reports of finding a dead and as yet unidentified male body on Somerton Beach in December 1948 – you will find nothing.

Shit   .. how did I get to here so quick?

This way.

Jessica Harkness was single, her only responsibility a young son and she lived near the beach.

The man labelled Keane had the legs and calves of a sand-runner. Perhaps they met on the beach not long after she arrived in Glenelg and as time went by he shared some of his forbidden to utter past with her. His old work. And why he was in Australia. Never a word of it he said, to anyone, not to a soul. I like it here.

Now he’s back, lying on her couch and he hasn’t breathed for five minutes.

The phone, but who to call? Not the police, not to their questions. Someone she trusted in a city she barely knew.


Some men know instinctively what to do when faced with a fraught situation that in their own interests requires instant dissembling. Sudden death then becomes suicide, but suicide demands a note.

Did Harkness know enough of the Rubaiyat to understand what the two words Tamam Shud meant?

She knew enough about Verse 70.

Did Harkness own a Rubaiyat?

Who knows. Maybe she did because that could explain why two phone numbers including her own were written on the back and, according to Gerry Feltus, a name. Perhaps the code is a children’s rhyming acrostic, ask and response, break at the A. 

The plot hurries on as Prosper, or Prosper’s man heaves the body over his shoulder and begins the long trudge down the beach. Put the smoke in his mouth, Prosper said, he’ll look like just another piss-pot who couldn’t make it home from the pub. And here, take this book and dump it somewhere.

The police are called in the morning. The matter taken to Glenelg station.

*Introducing Detective Strangway … and how I love that name, especially in this context as Strangway had a strange way about him  … he had the ear of the National Security Apparatus when none else did.

And that’s what made all the difference because they knew who the Somerton Man was.


One Comment Post a comment
  1. … and in order to keep interest at fever pitch, I can advise that the files containing the names of these gentlemen of interest will be made available to a trusted associate in about two weeks. I’m thinking the odds of finding our man are way better than NickP’s 133 to one on the winner of the 4A Stakes.

    June 28, 2021

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